For years, utility executives have relied on old data to predict peak energy hours. The days of looking in the rear-view mirror are gone as data becomes available in real time. Instead, cutting-edge utilities are analyzing reams of new data to predict when consumers will use more energy. As a result, they can be better prepared for unprecedented spikes in energy consumption. When a large number of electric cars start to suck energy off the grid during overnight hours as they charge for morning commutes, for example, the utilities will be ready.